- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2018

Atlanta anticipates spending another $9.5 million to recover from the ransomware virus that infected city computers in late March and disrupted government services for several weeks, a top local official said Wednesday.

Daphne Rackley, the head of Atlanta Information Management, revealed the updated cost at a public meeting as local officials continue to reel more than two months since enduring perhaps the worst cyberattack ever suffered by a U.S. city, Reuters reported.

Over a third of the more than 400 software applications used by Atlanta were either booted offline or disable as a result of the infection, including dozens categorized as “mission critical,” like programs used by local police and courts, Ms. Rackley said at the meeting, according to the report.

Ms. Rackley acknowledged that Atlanta initially believed that no critical applications were compromised by the attack, the report said.

“It’s a lot more … it seems to be growing every day,” Ms. Rackley told the Atlanta City Council, Reuters reported.

Indeed, both the extent of the infection and the related costs have increased in the months since Atlanta’s computer became infected with ransomware – a type of malicious software that typically works by encrypting the contents of vulnerable computers and holding that data hostage until the perpetrator receives a payment.

Documents uncovered in early April revealed that Atlanta spent nearly $2.7 million responding to the ransomware in just the first few weeks of the hack — substantially more than the roughly $50,000 ransom payment initially sought.

Earlier this week, meanwhile, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields revealed that the ransomware also compromised “years” of video footage captured by dashcam recorders.

About a decade’s worth of legal documents were also lost in the hack, interim City Attorney Nina Hickson said Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Atlanta said it did not pay the ransom, according to Reuters. City officials refrained earlier from acknowledging whether any payment was made, though the FBI had repeatedly advised victims against compensating ransomware criminals.

Ms. Rackley revealed the anticipated costs while appearing before council members weighing whether to allocate more money to her department than the $35 million previously pitched by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Council members have until the end of the month to vote on a budget for fiscal year 2019, Reuters reported.

Ransomware accounted for 39 percent of malware-related security breaches in 2017, according to Verizon’s annual Data Breach Investigations Report released in April.

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